Ventilation subsidy does not solve overdue maintenance
Many schools have been struggling with their indoor climate for years. Due to corona there was a financial injection to get the ventilation in order. Nice, but hardly a substantial contribution, it sounds to many school boards. "The money should mainly come from your own budget."
In February of this year, some students in ski suits or winter coats were blue-faced in class. Windows open, because good ventilation is the motto because of corona. It resulted in photogenic pictures in the regional media and widespread outrage. In a month or two, those windows will probably still be open and the same classrooms will be sweltering and stuffy.
There has been a lot wrong with the indoor climate in schools for years, as has been shown time and again from research.* In 2005, the government started a Fresh Schools program for a better indoor climate. Research in that year showed that the indoor climate in eight out of ten schools was downright bad. In 2013, experts estimated that the indoor climate at six out of ten schools was still not in order. In October 2020, a study was carried out into ventilation and the presence of CO2 meters in classrooms. This showed that less than a third of all school buildings in primary and secondary education have proven that the ventilation is in order. Corona provided a subsidy to get schools to invest in improving ventilation. This is often done by climate systems, so that the amount of fresh air in a room does not depend on teachers and students opening windows and doors.
Years ago, when no one had heard of corona, a lot of attention was paid to the indoor climate at the Spaarnesant foundation in Haarlem (25 schools for public primary and special education). Jan Aalberts, director of operations, puts the current interest in ventilation into perspective. “Of course you don't get corona from too much CO2 in a room. You get that by being too close to an infected person. We want an indoor climate in all our buildings that is healthy for students and staff. Scientific research also shows that learning performance increases if the CO2 values are good indoors. "
'Of course you don't get corona from too much CO2 in a room'
Spaarnesant has already invested heavily in improving the indoor climate, now the foundation also has a specific allowance for ventilation in schools (Suvis) *The specific allowance for ventilation in schools (Suvis) must be applied for by municipalities, not by school boards. In total, almost 100 million euros is available. The application period runs until 1 June, but so many applications have now been submitted that they exceed the available budget. That does not mean that the pot is empty, but that the bottom is in sight.applied for for four schools. Spaarnesant also wants to participate in any subsequent schemes. “Half of our buildings do not have a ventilation system. Every experienced teacher opens windows and schedules, but we don't want to depend on good user behavior. A properly functioning installation permanently ensures a healthy indoor climate, that's what it's all about. Plenty of fresh air, cool in the summer, pleasant in the winter. Moreover: our buildings are on average 65 years old and not the most energy-efficient buildings, we now want to include that immediately. The ceilings have to be opened anyway, so we can immediately install LED lighting if it is not yet available.
'Learning performance increases if the CO2 values inside are good'
The modifications cost at least three hundred thousand euros per building, Aalberts estimates. “The government subsidizes 30 percent and you, as a board, have to talk to the municipality about the other 70 percent. Haarlem says: We only pay if there is a need for renovation or renewal. So the bill is ours. ”
Spaarnesant (850 employees) spreads the depreciation over twenty years: “Then it costs us the money of one teacher per year. This is not so bad for our numbers. But we pay it out of the lump sum and it is simply not intended for this. We are structurally falling short of the exploitation of our buildings, there must be a solution. The 2020 McKinsey report also concluded that the state is not making enough money available to maintain the maintenance of school buildings. There has been under-funded education for a long time, and this is now also being added. ”
'The investment costs us the money of one teacher per year'
Not only the municipality of Haarlem does not give home, in Harderwijk, for example, the municipality does not intend to contribute to improving the indoor climate in schools, alderman Marcel Companjen said in an urgent letter to outgoing minister Arie Slob: not budgeted, too short deadline, unattainable. In Haaksbergen, the Keender school board was also quickly dismissed. Of course the municipality wanted to submit an application, but no money is coming, according to a report in a regional newspaper Tubantia. Because: "Keender owns the buildings." The municipality of Eindhoven shows a bit more sense of responsibility. In consultation with the school boards, Suvis was requested for thirteen buildings and the municipality has promised to supplement the Suvis contribution to 50 percent of the final amount required. The other 50 percent is therefore for the account of the school board. That will cost the municipality a total of 4 million euros.
'We pay it from the lump sum and it is not intended for that'
Out of pocket
Those who want to get started will have to invest themselves, says policy officer for housing Rob Koning of Blosse Education in Heerhugowaard. “Municipalities are clearly not eager to contribute.” Also 'his' municipality of Castricum is not participating in the co-financing that the government so optimistically suggests. Nevertheless, work will start this summer at primary school the Color Orchestra in Limmen. “We had already reserved resources for this. Then that 30 percent is of course a nice windfall. ” But even then you should not count yourself rich, Koning nuances the generosity of the government. “That 30 percent depends on the number of students. This school has less than 250 students. That means a government grant of up to 150 euros, while the adjustments cost many times over. ”
Moreover: “If you start working on this, you naturally look more broadly at making your building more sustainable: also at solar panels and LED lighting. You want to make your building as energy neutral as possible. And 150 euros is more than nothing, but of course absolutely insufficient if you want to tackle that properly. ”
In Oegstgeest, director Mathijs Albers of primary school de Vogels hopes that a new climate installation will also be built this summer. “The current system does not have enough power. This is partly due to the size of the classrooms, partly due to the groups that have become increasingly larger. ” Teachers suffer from dry air, sometimes headaches and people are often tired at the end of the day. "But of course you don't immediately blame that on a lack of fresh air." Yet that is the case, according to the CO2 meters. "With red you actually have to leave the room, but that is of course very difficult and certainly does not always happen." The Suvis has been requested, there is already a quotation from a contractor of around 5 tons. “But it is not yet clear whether the municipality and the administration will be resolved. According to the integral housing plan, our turn will not actually be until 2025. The board has reservations, of course, but we are not the only school with serious housing problems. ”